The Wolfson College Science Society aims to promote science, medicine, technology and engineering research in College. The first of this year's series of lay-friendly talks takes places today (Friday 14 October) at 6.00pm in the OCR (Old Combination Room). Dr Chris Forman, Research Associate at the Institute of Manufacturing in the Department of Engineering will speak on 'Rubik's Planet: Global Consequences of Nanoscale Phenomena'. All welcome!
Abstract: Although there are many ways of arranging a Rubik's cube there is only one configuration which solves it and everybody universally agrees on what that configuration is. If only the same were true of the arrangement of resources and people on Earth! We'd have a universally agreed common goal and may be we'd all agree on how we should get there. Perhaps we'd even be able to do this without messing up bits we'd already sorted out! Pigs, in this reality, might even fly. However, there's nothing to stop us from suggesting an initial definition for what such a universal goal might be for humanity, just to get the debate going. Something like: Can everyone in the world be a millionaire? Can this be done with no pollution or waste and with the biological ecology perfectly preserved? Using only sunlight as an energy source? By thinking about the way that biology works, we ask is such a reality physically possible? What might the required technology be? What is the connection between the technology and the large scale global phenomena that result? Is science getting to a position where it can begin to design a global society from first principles? Who would be responsible for optimising it? why? Isn't this something we all ought to think about and talk about? Perhaps the technology employed and the nature of the subsequent reality may be inextricably linked. In which case, what are the consequences for the technology that we are researching now, and what would we like to research instead? Perhaps we're bang on track! Maybe such tracks aren't definable. This talk is a slightly fantastic "What IF?" and is an excuse to explore some of the science that's going on at the moment and how it might affect people in the years to come! There are more questions than answers. Maybe there is a way of making pigs fly after all...!